The Stinky Truth
About Anal Glands
BY NICOLE IPSON | September 19, 2017
You’ve seen the “funny” carpet commercials and videos of dogs dragging their bottoms across the floor. Have you ever wondered what they were actually doing? For me as a groomer of over 10 years when I see those commercials my first instinct is to say “gross” or “that’s sad”. The reason being is because while most people think this is funny or their dog is being cute, they are actually trying to tell you something is wrong.
When your pet goes to the bathroom and their anal glands are functioning properly a secretion is passed along with their feces. This does two things, it marks the area with their sent, as well as lubricates their back-end so they can pass their number 2 easily. However, due to poor fibrous diets, these glands can become impacted. This causes the secretion becoming thicker and harder to pass. Along with this, it can cause your pet to strain. This is when your pet pushes for long periods of time to pass their feces. Straining alone can cause several other issues.
Now, remember how I mentioned your dog being funny and dragging their bottom across the floor? This in itself is a major sign that your pet needs its anal glands expressed. Usually, there are two sets of people that can do this for you if you are uncomfortable doing it yourself. You can call a groomer, they often offer this as a walk-in service. Or you can call your vet. Here are the differences between the two.
Can only do an external gland expression. Meaning, they will put pressure on the anal glands from the outside, releasing anything loose from the sacs that your pet can’t get. If your pet isn’t badly clogged usually this is enough to relieve the symptoms. They can also bathe the back end of your pet (maybe at an extra cost but well worth it) so that your pet doesn’t smell of anal glands afterward.
Can do internal gland expression. Meaning, they are trained to actually milk your pets gland from the inside allowing them to more completely empty the sacs. This method is usually what a groomer will suggest if they find that the secretion coming from your pet is rather thick and unwilling to completely release from the sacs. This will be suggested if the groomer feels that it is possible that they can rupture your pets anal glands.
It is important that you understand what you are watching for, and that is relatively easy. The anal glands are located to the left and right of your pets anus. If you notice your pet straining while going to the restroom or dragging their bottoms these are your first signs. You can also check your pet by feeling the sides of their anus. If you find that there is a bump on either or both sides of the anus your pet is becoming impacted. Usually, small dogs have to have help expressing their glands and most large dogs don’t.
The reason you need to know what to watch for though is simple. If your pets glands are ignored and they are unable to take care of the expression themselves they can rupture. Meaning the sacs can become so full that they will pop like a balloon. They usually pop outward causing a dime size hole on either or both sides of the anus. This will lead to major issues as well as large amounts of pain.
This topic isn’t a fun one for anyone, this is fairly obvious. However, as a pet owner, it is important that you be aware of your pet’s health even the stinky parts. In doing so you will ensure that your pet stays as happy and healthy as possible. After all, they are a part of your family, they just can’t always tell you if something is wrong. So be aware of the signs, and help your pet in every way!